Milan: Pinacoteca di Brera

The name “Brera” apparently derives from a Germanic word, braida, which means “field of grass”. In this part of the city of Milan, traditionally home to many artists, we find the world-famous Pinacoteca di Brera. It can be found in a palazzo that was built for the Jesuit Order in…

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Milan: Castello Sforzesco

The Castello Sforzesco is a huge castle in the centre of Milan, measuring some 190 by 190 metres. Behind it is the Parco Sempione, one of the largest public parks of the city. The Castello houses a handful of a museums that together are called the Musei Civici. You can…

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Milan: Biblioteca and Pinacoteca Ambrosiana

The driving force behind establishing the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana was Federico Borromeo, archbishop of Milan from 1595 until his death in 1631. Borromeo, cousin of Saint Carlo Borromeo, was an important figure in the counter-Reformation movement. In 1609 he founded the Bibliotheca Ambrosiana, one of the first public libraries in Europe.…

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Milan: Museo Poldi Pezzoli

What a wonderful museum! We had not planned to visit the Museo Poldi Pezzoli, but ended up there by chance. Originally we wanted to go and see the famous Chiaravalle Abbey on the outskirts of Milan. However, the abbey was quite far away and since it was our last day…

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Florence: Palazzo Medici Riccardi

In April of this year, I saw the “art movie” Florence and the Uffizi Gallery at the cinema. It featured the actor Simon Merrells as Lorenzo “Il Magnifico” de’ Medici and discussed the highlights of Florentine Renaissance art. The movie dedicated quite a few minutes to the Palazzo Medici Riccardi,…

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Florence: Santa Trinita

The Vallumbrosan Order is a branch of the Benedictines that was founded in the eleventh century by Saint John Gualbert (died 1073). The first church of the Vallumbrosans in Florence was built in either 1077 or 1092 (different dates are mentioned in different sources). At that time it was outside…

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Florence: Ognissanti

The best time to visit the Ognissanti church in Florence is on a Monday, Tuesday or Saturday morning. The church is open to the public on other days of the week as well, but only on the days mentioned are visitors allowed to visit the beautiful cloister next door (Chiostro…

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